A Countess Below the Stairs by Eva Ibbotson (review by Sophia S. ’15)

A Countess Below StairsA Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Although Eva Ibbotson’s matter-of-fact writing takes some getting used to, I wish more authors would adopt her unique style of frank writing. The narrator’s humor is understated – not unlike a terribly funny joke delivered with a poker face. A Countess Below the Stairs delves into a servant’s world in the early 1900’s and revolves around Anna, an impoverished Russian countess posing as a housemaid in household of an engaged English earl. Unsurprisingly, the earl and the countess fall in love. In the meantime, the inhabitants of Mersham Manor discover that the earl’s fiancée’s glamor is only skin deep. The gem of the book is the delightfully wicked plan a determined butler concocts to drive the shallow woman away. Although the plot is captivating, the romance is not. Anna and Rupert’s love blooms from so astonishingly few meaningful encounters as to render it unreal. While it’s unlikely Ibbotson’s title will resonate for long, readers will enjoy the story. – Sophia S. ‘15

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